Beyond Expectations: From Foster Children to Foster Parents

Leslie S. Hamilton, Victor W. Harris


Little research exists on long-term outcomes for adults who have been in foster care as children, with even less research on former foster children who become foster parents themselves. Foster care and maltreatment exert significant independent and interdependent impacts on youth outcomes. While traditional research often focuses on predicting and mitigating negative outcomes, new studies indicate success using a positive youth development approach that is strengths-based targeting positive outcomes, such as strong empathy skills. These outcomes align with the demonstrated skills that lead to successful foster parenting. The current review examines the possible transition from foster child to foster parent through the lenses of parenting styles, attachment, and family systems theories, as well as positive youth development and social justice youth development theories. The authors propose utilizing theory and proven interventions to address foster youths’ attachment and emotional development needs, recognize positive outcomes for youth in foster care, and employ evidence-based training programs in place for at-risk parent groups to help break the cycle that leads to displacement. The need for more research to assist foster children, parents, case workers, and systems to promote healthy youth development is discussed.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Leslie S. Hamilton, Victor W. Harris

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International Journal of Education ISSN 1948-5476


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